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Anthony Adolph, professional genealogistWelcome to the Genes Reunited web chat, where you can get help and advice from our resident genealogist and expert family historian, Anthony Adolph. To find out more about Anthony click here.

Thanks again to Anthony and everyone who joined in on the sessions so far.

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Name Date
Pamela Ward 28/09/2004 21:21:54

From Pam in Plymouth --- Hi Anthony ,I am trying to find more details of my great grandfather. I have my grandmothers birth cert (dob 29/07/1887)which was registered on 5/9/1887 by her father George Richardson who was not married to her mother (Mary Millar) but gave his address as same as my grandmothers. Unfortunately no ages are given on birth cert but fathers occupation is given as hospital steward. By 1991 census my gran has been "adopted" by a couple who have several adopted children who all keep their surnames so I presume this is adoption in name only. My g. grandmother is employed as a servant but I can find no trace of George Richardson employed as hosp. steward either on 1871, 1881, or 1901 census. I would never have believed how many George Richardson and Mary Millar (also often wrongly transcribed as Miller)there are. Not having an age to narrow it down my one hope is if the hospital he was employed in in 1887 kept records with ages !! Only coming from Rotherhithe there seem to have been so many hospitals in and around london at that time plus work house infirmeries etc. Do you think I stand a chance of "tracking him down " Any help , hints or advice would be gratefully accepted. Thanks Anthony

I think you mean 1891 census. Adoption only came in formally in 1926, so no, the adoptions you have found would have been informal arrangements. There's a link on my website ( to the Institutions Website run by the admirable Ross Brett, which may help you find hospital records, but it's incredibly unlikely that records, even if they survived, would help you with things like ages. Frankly, you are very, very lucky that your illegitimate grandmother's father's name was recorded at all. Your best hope may be to make a concerted attack on the 1891 census, using indexes available or just the original returns, and hope against hope you find George listed as a hospital worker. Could be very hard work, but you may be rewarded with success.

Marie Ward 22/05/2007 21:27:23

hello anthony g/grandfather working in house with a smith family aged 12yrs name thomas lovett can you tell me how to find parents.

Presumably this information is from a census. It should state the boy's age. You can therefore seek a birth certificate for him, in General Registration. You will find full details of how to use General Registration, censuses and all the other records useful to genealogists in my books, You should find help with your research in my books, "Tracing your Family History" – a comprehensive guide to tracing your family history in Britain and "Need to Know? Tracing Your Family History" – a short guide for beginners, which I wrote especially for Genes Renuited members who are starting out on the exciting quest that is tracing your ancestry. Before you seek the boy's birth, however, don't forget to obrtain his marriage record, as this will tell you his father's name and occupation. (

Sue Ward 18/03/2008 21:49:10

Hi Anthony, I am trying to find out about my great grandfather William Crompton Dale. I have his marriage certificate and what I thought was his birth certificate, but his father's name is different on the two certificates. I have searched the BMD indexes and can only find 1 William Crompton Dale born around 1875 (he was aged 31 on his marriage cert in 1906) and the marriage was in Walthamstow. Marriage cert says father is William Crompton Dale and birth cert says William Duncombe Dale, so I am stuck please can you offer some advice. There is a family story that we are related to Samuel Crompton of the Spinning Mule fame, so I am out to try and disprove or otherwise this story! Many thanks Sue.

The censuses will show you whether your WCD who was born in 1875 was born in the place shown on the brith certificate. The names are so unusual here that I expect you have the right birth record, but that the father's name is wrong in one of the sources (presumably the marriage record, as the father may not have been present then, whereas he would almost certainly have been around when his son was born). You could also use the censuses to see if the father can be found: if you can also find the 'other' father then you will know that things were more complex.

Caroline Warburton 15/04/2008 21:09:32

Evening Anthony - thank you for being available We have just found out that our great grandfather was arrested for embezzling in 1875, and three weeks later was declared bankrupt. This was in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, and he was committed for trial at Northallerton. Almost immediately after that his wife had a baby in Reading, which died soon after birth. We've always wondered why the family suddenly went to Reading, and now we're guessing that he was sent to Reading Gaol. How do we find out? And would his wife be likely to get any help from the parish or anywhere that would leave records. She'd just had a baby that died, she had a two-year old child, her husband was bankrupt and probably in prison, and she was far from family and friends. Caroline

What an interesting tale. If the mother did not have her baby in Reading Workhouse, then she was probably not receiving any oficial help, though she may of course have gone thence becasue she had friends or family there. Maybe she was just trying to get as far away from Middlesborough as possible. Regarding your great grandfather, you should find plenty of local newspaper reports about his trial and bankruptcy.

Caroline Warburton 22/08/2006 21:00:56

Hello Anthony, Thank you for being on hand to answer questions. I’m looking for my grandmother’s brother, Charles White, an unfortunately common name. This one was on the stage; we’re not sure what as. He sang risqué ditties and was very disapproved of. He was born in Reading in 1878, and we have him in 1881 and 1891, age 3 and 11, with his parents. We can’t find him in 1901, unless he’s the blacksmith married to Minnie, which doesn’t seem likely. We know he married Maggie, and her death certificate says she was the widow of a theatre manager. We don’t know her maiden name. We haven’t found the marriage certificate or his death – there are so many Charles Whites, and we don’t know for sure where he was. The likely places are Reading and Brixton. We don’t know Maggie’s maiden name. We have found a playbill where Charles White, actor, played with the Dippers in Bristol in 1922. I don’t want to fall into the trap of wishful thinking. How can we chase this up? Best wishes Caroline Bagshaw

There are excelletn archives of theatre memorabilia and playbills, at the Theatre Museum, and a biographical dictionary, called (something very similar to) Who's Who on the Stage, all of which may help. One tip - you could look for a will - these are indexed and you do much more information in the indexes to help you decide whether you've found the right person.

Margaret Walters 19/08/2008 21:22:40

Hi Anthony After lengthy searches I can find no record of my g grandmother Annie Butcher prior to her marriage to g grandfather James Ritchings in March 1887, in Fulham age 22. The marriage cert. gives her address 43 Charlotte Rd but no mention of where, fathers name William Butcher. Census records birth as Pimlico/ Westminster she died 1911 aged 46 also as Annie. Where else can I look to find her prior to 1887. Maggie Cox

A street address minus a place name usually means that the street was in the parish where the marriage took place. You should be able to find this woman and her father in the 1881 census (see and then seek her birth.

Dean Walsh 19/08/2008 21:21:12

Hello Anthony, My Gt-Great Grandfather was born in 1870 in Eastry(Kent) workhouse, he was an illigitimate child as there was no fathers name on the certifiate, please could you tell me where i would start looking for Bastardy records and/or Workhouse records, or would there be any other records that may give me a fathers name. Thanks Dean

Any useful information of this sort that survives (you have identified the correct potential sources) would be in the relevant Kent archives – probably the Canterbury.

Lucia Wallbank 31/08/2004 20:50:26

Hello, Can you help me find my great grandfather, Albert Goodge? I have asked relatives for information about him, but only know that he was in a mental institution. His death certificate states that he died in Coulsdon, Surrey in 1952. I know of two asylums in Coulsdon - Netherne? and Cane Hill. Where can I find records for these asylums and what would they reveal? I have his marriage certificate from 1914 but I think that the details may be wrong as his age is different on the death certificate. There is no address on the marriage certificate that I can search on the 1901 census. I cannot find his birth as no one knows when he was born and I can't verify anything I have found on any census as I don't know anything about him. According to his marriage certificate, his father was Alfred Goodge, a tobacconist, but I haven't found anything in directories. I believe that Albert's family opposed his marriage and that is why my grandfather never had any contact with his father's family. My grandfather once mentioned an Annie Holmes married a Goodge, perhaps Albert's father. There is a suggestion that Goodge is a German name. Is there any evidence of this? Many thanks for your help, Lucia

For mental institution records for the 1950's I would suggest approaching the institutions themselves, or if they are no longer there, the local health authority and/or local archives. The Surrey History Centre in Goldsworth Road, Woking would know. Ages at death are much, much less likely to be correct than ages at marriage- the latter were given by the people themselves, whereas the former were given by others who were unable to ask the deceased to confirm the information! As the 1901 census has been fully indexed you should be able to use it to pick Albert up, and indeed seek the father Alfred as well. Goodge may sound German but in most cases it as a variant, predominently East Anglian, of Gough.

Lucia Wallbank 17/02/2004 21:05:40

Hello Anthony, Do you know anything about the origins of the surname Gorbold?

This is a good, distinctive name which should be a joy to trace. It has a Suffolk sound to it but in fact the earliest reference I have to hand is William Gorebald in Cambridgeshire (next to Suffolk) in 1273. It means 'son of Gerbold', which is an unusual but certainly verifiable personal name of Saxon origin. Garbutt is the more usual variant of the name.

Lucia Wallbank 17/02/2004 21:21:28

Hello Anthony, I have another question. My ggrandfather, Richard Mellon was illegitimate and on his marriage certificate it states his mother, Isabella Mackintosh as deceased, when she clearly isn't as my grandmother remembers her, she is also shown as married to my gggrandfather Richard Mellon, and they never married. Is it possible that he lied about his parents?

Yes. You should always have very good reason for disbelieving what it says on a marriage certicate (or any record) but in your case it sounds as if you have very good reason indeed. Your poor grandfather probably simply wanted to avoid the embarassment- as it was then- of saying he was illegitimate. Had he done so his bride may have been whisked back up the aisle by her outraged parents!

Lucia Wallbank 18/01/2005 21:07:47

Hi Anthony, I have been trying to find out who my great grandfather's father is. His marriage certificate states that his father was Richard Mellon, a seaman, which I find interesting because family rumour has it that Richard's father was a German sailor. I have managed to trace Richard on the census living with his sister Nora, who was two days old at the time and his mother, Isabella Mackintosh.His birth place is stated as England, but I find this remarkably vague so I think this was to hide his illegitimacy. I am certain that he didn't have a birth certificate and his sister didn't have one either. I doubt the information about his father on the marriage certificate as he lied about his mother. Where could I look to find out more about his father? Thank you very much for your help, Lucia

Seamens' records are at the National Archives, Kew: I would suggest looking there first.

Patricia Wall 19/08/2008 21:06:39

Hello Anthony, We have actually "met" before, when you tracked down my Irish Grandfather, to Cork. My question this evening also concerns him. I had failed to locate his death, until I pitched my search further back in time than I thought it would be. I found him, Timorth Carroll, died in the Middlesbrough Workhouse hospital, in 1916. The thing that puzzles me is they have his age as 63, when he was actually only 45. Could there be a reason for such a large descrepancy, such as would he need to be over a certain age to receive admittance to the workhouse hospital, or to obtain other benefits. I can't seem to access the workhpuse web site, and know nothing about these institutions. I was actually surprised they were still operation in 1916. Your comments would be mosr welcome, Pat Jones

Workhouse kept going until replaced by the National Health Service, and indeed in the later years their hospitals filled very much the same role. This is the best site for workhouse information: As to ages: the age discrepancy is so big that maybe you have found a different generation of the same family – but, if this is the right man, ages could be dramatically wrong – poor, ill Irish labourers were not well known for giving accurate information about their ages and origins.

Kim Walker 14/11/2006 22:05:25

Hi Anthony, Simon Roach 1765-1861 born in foriegn parts and his son in law Alexander Clark 1803-1861 born in Jamaica lived and worked as sailors in bristol. one or both were black or mixed race as the colour came down the line from Alexanders daughter Julia . my grandfather had dark features. What I would like to ask is, are there records of sailors and ships 1n the early 1800. if yes would they state the colour or ethnic backgrounds of the crew. many thanks Kim

Yes, and no. Royal and Merchant Navy records are at the National Archives and, though hard to use, would probably repay your searching them at this stage. They could both have been mixed race - most families who spent any length of time in the Caribbean picked up some African blood. There is a section in my book (Tracing your Family History, Collins, 2005) all about looking into this sort of thing - and, though the options for which lines you can test are limited, you could have a think about DNA testing too - the subject of another chapter of the same book.

Shirley Walker 23/03/2004 21:01:52

Hi Anthony, managed to get back to 1770c, but now have a"JOHN WEATHERALD ON I.G.I BORN ABOUT 1770 MANCHESTER, how do i get beyond this no other data, his marriage was Manchester Cathedral 1802 for his wife it only7 gives another approx birth on I.G.I Many thanks Shirley

'about' on the IGI means the entry was entered on the IGI by someone who didn't have the foggiest clue where the person came from. Disregard the entry entirely. There were many thousands of marriages at Manchester Cathedral every year, for people from all over that great city. To work out John's age and place of origin it may be sensible to rty to find his burial or death (after 1837), or hope he survived to the 1841 ir even 1851 census. In other words, to go back with certainty, you may need to come forwards a little first. I am afraid you may have

Sharron Walker 20/01/2004 20:56:59

Anthony My father was born out of wedlock in 1938. His mother was 24 at the time and was placed in a home straight after having my father (where she died age 75 in 1990) my father was also put in a home then fostered age 10 by a Vicar. My father doesn't know much about his early life or if there was any papers about his foster, because everything was so hushed up. Where would I go to try and find out if there were any document about my father? thank you Sharrron

you could see if the place where your father was fostered has any records, or ask the adoption/social servcies sectio of your local social services. I feel there may be more I could find out to help you, so please come back to the next session next month, or else contact me direct, and I will try to find out more.

Sharron Walker 21/10/2003 21:38:20

Hi it's me again. I've just been on the online1837 and order my g.grandmothers birth cert',she was entered as Florence Walker Ridley 28 july 1895 Penrith, but on my grandmother and her sister birth certs' Florence has put mother-Florence Ida Walker??? I have also tried different ages for Florence on the 1901 census and the same person from Lumplugh keeps coming up. Florence was 7 with her parents Robert Ridley 39 and Fanny Ridley 31. I guess Fanny may have been called Walker and kept her maiden name. Robert and Fanny also appear on the 1891 census but without child. This family tree stuff is very confussing ha. Thank you for your help

Well done- research going on live! I think that's a first. I am afraid I don't quite follow your second and third lines- are we dealing with just one Florence here? If you have just ordered Florence's birth record then you will soon have the certificate and know if the mother Fanny was born a Walker and I hope that will lead to some clarity. Do send me copies of the documents (by post), if you want, and I'll have a good look at them and see if I can say anything more intelligent.

Sharron Walker 21/10/2003 20:58:23

Hi I always thought that my maiden was Walker untill i received my g.grandmothers death cert' and found out that her maiden name was Ridley (florence Walker Ridley). She had 2 children out of wedlock one being my nan Hilda Walker, I also have their birth certs', but why would she give her 2 children her middle name Walker and not Ridley. And the only Florence Ridley I can find on the 1901 census was born in Cumberland/lumplugh and not Penrith which was on her death cert'and on the online1837 and FBM as Penrith? Do you think this is the same person? thank you Sharron Knight

Illegitimacy always causes genealogists problems- and makes for interesting cases too. A possibility to look into here is that Florence may have had some close Walker relatives- maybe maternal grandparents or maternal uncles called Walker; maybe the Walkers adopted Florence's children and brought them up as their own- often, the mother's parents would pretend their daughter's illegitimate children were younger children of theirs. in this case maybe it was the great grandparents (stretching the age difference a bit, but you take my point). Places of death on death certificates are never likely to be that accurate- how would anyone know for sure? Therefore the possible entry you have found in 1901 definitely sounds worth checking out.

Martin Waldron 25/05/2011 21:06:41

My grandfather had a second 'wife'. I can find no record of a marriage in the UK and colonies, having checked the usual on line databases. It is just possible they may have married in Europe if that were a simple matter in the 20's and 30's, but is very unlikely they would have strayed beyond Europe. They obtained a joint UK passport in 1945 when they emigrated to Australia, but the Passport Office have assured me they would need a marriage certificate to get this. Have you any ideas how I might resolve this paradox. I would love to know if they were married bigamously. Many thanks, Martin

Bear in mind that, inn the British Isles, different General Registration systems exist for Scotland, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the different Channel Islands. If they actually did marry in Europe, you could try our British Consular Marriages and the other 'Overseas' marriages, to which you can gain access under the 'search records' label here. Failing all that, you could try newspaper announcements, in their local paper, though admittedly that would be difficult without knowing when the event took place.

Esme Wakefield 21/02/2012 21:09:46

Good Evening Essex Llewelyn Pullinger _ I have been unable to find a civil registration for this person. Have found the following info. Christenin - Walthamstow 25 Feb 1880 Marriage - 26 April 1906 Copy cert Marriage - 12 Dec. 1934 Original Cert Death - 24 Jan 1962 Original Cert Have also looked -Births at sea. Medal Roll Index WW1 - 2nd Leuit. Passenger Lists - Various entries Question - Could he have joined up with a birth cert.? Have you any suggestions where I could look to find his civil registration. Thank you

Are you saying your ancestor was called "Essex Llewelyn Pullinger"? What an extraordinary name! Besides the places you have looked already, have you tried the army births? Many "lost" births are lurking there. Also, consider variant spellings - Pillenger, for example.

Esme Wakefield 21/02/2012 21:28:38

Thank you for your reply. Yes, Essex Lleweln Pullinger is his correct name. As you suggested I have already tried the alternatives and drew a blank. Once again thanks for your reply.

How bizarre. It is such an odd name that it may have confused the registrars and their clerks - perhaps you should try under plain Lleweln Pullinger, or Lleweln Pullinger Essex. Come on, all you who are reading this - someone must have heard of this unusually-named chap!